Anti-Tax Lawmakers in Arizona Have No Idea What Their Constituents Want

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The Arizona Republic this week ran an excellent article detailing just how wrong anti-tax legislators were in assuming that their constituents would oppose a tax hike.  A temporary sales tax hike that barely made it out of the legislature earlier this year was approved by voters last month by an overwhelming 64-36% margin.  The measure also enjoyed solid majorities in many of the districts held by lawmakers that opposed sending this measure to the ballot.

One year after the Republican Chair of the House Appropriations Committee confidently declared that “Republicans in my district don’t want a tax increase,” State Rep. John Kavanagh’s District 8 joined the overwhelming majority of Arizonans in supporting the hike.  Similarly, District 22, represented by Republican Senator Thayer Verschoor — who headed the campaign in opposition to the sales tax — voted strongly in favor of the tax as well.  Notably, District 22 is also home to two other Republican representatives that voted against allowing their constituents to a chance to decide on the sales tax hike.  When all was said and done, every county in the state except for Mohave voted in support of the increase.

Without a doubt, the approval of this hike — despite its flaws — was both an enormous victory for the people of Arizona, and a sharp condemnation of the rabidly anti-tax nature of the state’s elected officials.  Fred Solop of Northern Arizona University stated the obvious when he said that legislators’ claims that “we need to take a different tack with the state economy, cut back spending and programs” were in fact not “aligned with the values of Arizona voters.” 

Lattie Coor, formerly the president of Arizona State University, underscored this point further by noting that last year only 10% of Arizonans felt that their lawmakers represented them, and that "to find such a substantial variance between what voters actually did on a proposition before them … and the vote of their elected representatives, underscores the disconnect between citizens and elected officials.” 

Once again, this episode makes clear that the anti-tax attitudes of politicians should never be mistaken for actual anti-tax sentiment among Americans.

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